Healthy Relationship News – December 2011

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New York Times Magazine

Teaching Good Sex

and our response

The New York Times in late November published an article featuring a very progressive sex education program in Philadelphia. Read the article, then our response below. Let us know what YOU think at

Dear Editor:

The NYT article, Teaching Good Sex, (Nov. 20 2011) raises an important point: Too much of what teens are taught are the perils of sex and not the possibility of good sex.

Al Vernacchio promotes the idea that we need to engage teens in developing a better understanding of good sex. But there are serious flaws about how he actually educates about good sex.

Good sex is not only a function of knowing all the ins and outs of clitorises, G-spots, and foreplay. Good sex is relational. Vernacchio’s approach is weighted towards a body-based approach to sexual desire and satisfaction. Knowing the physical stuff is important but it’s not enough.

Vernacchio’s box for students’ questions is quite revealing. As the article states, “For every one question about female ejaculation, there are 10 questions about emotions, handling feelings, attractions, breaking up, communicating with a partner, jealously, etc.”

We need to help young people learn more about real love vs. infatuation and pure testosterone-fueled attraction; about the multi-dimensions of intimacy, about how to choose partners wisely, about how to develop healthy and respectful relationships and maintain them, how to deal with relationship troubles, how to tell if they are on the same page about each other about the future of the relationship, and the meanings they attach to deepening levels of intimacy.

Teenagers need protected space to develop themselves, learn more about relationships, love, intimacy, and acquire a language for talking about these heart and soul matters, and yes – the mechanics and emotions of good sex.

It is high time to change the sex ed paradigm. Vernacchio takes a step in this direction. But the new paradigm needs to embed sex education in a robust comprehensive relationship education that joins body and heart together.

Kay Reed

Executive Director, The Dibble Institute

Berkeley, CA

Marline E. Pearson

Author, Love Notes: Making Relationships Work

Madison, WI

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It's All About Relationships

It’s All About Relationships!

Search Institute’s Building Assets Reducing Risks* is a proven school reform process that focuses on restructuring the grade 9 experience for students. One component of the program is a weekly class on social competency, substance abuse prevention, student-to-student relationships, and teacher-to-student relationships called “I-Time.”

One of the activities offered in the I-Time curriculum is titled Rare Birds. The activity provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about one another (with the teacher leading the activity) in a way they are not likely to encounter elsewhere in the school setting. Download the Rare Birds activity >

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Family Bridges

A Teen’s Perspective on Relationship Skills

A True Story…

Mike was not a popular kid in middle school. In fact, a lot of kids were afraid of him because he was so big. These social problems upset him and made it hard for him to focus on his studies. His grades dropped. Then the Family Bridges LoveSmart program (Ed Note: Using the curriculum Relationship Smarts PLUS!) came to his school. The healthy relationship skills he learned changed everything. He realized he could be a bully or a buddy. It was entirely up to him.

Family Bridges

Family Bridges integrates their LoveSmart program with the social and emotional core competencies found in the Illinois State Learning Standards. Click here to download a copy.

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Child Trends

Rising Poverty Rates Take a Toll on Young Children, Young Parents, Single-Mother Families

According to a new report from Child Trends, the younger the parent and the younger the child, the more likely a family is to be poor. As policy makers ponder the merits of alternative measures of poverty, the Child Trends report outlines the disproportionate effects of poverty on young children, young parents, and children and parents in single-mother families. Among the report’s highlights:

  • The younger the parent, the more likely a family is to be poor. Households headed by young parents (18-24) are more likely to be poor than households headed by older parents, regardless of marital status.
  • The younger the child, the more likely a family is to be poor. Families with young children (0-6) are more likely to be poor than families with older children.
  • Overall poverty rates mask much higher rates for some sub-groups, such as single-mother families, whose poverty rate was 40.7 percent in 2010, compared to 8.8 percent for married-couple families.

Read the full report

(Ed. Note: Read “Making A Love Connection” from the National Campaign. This report by Marline Pearson makes the link between life’s outcomes and the way a person sequences their significant life events (completion of school, children, and marriage)).

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money habitudes

NIJ Study Finds School Interventions Significantly Reduce Dating Violence

A National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study has found that school-level interventions reduced dating violence as much as 50 percent in 30 New York City public schools. These interventions included using school-based restraining orders, increasing faculty and security presence in dating violence “hot spots,” and hanging posters to increase awareness of the issue and encourage students to report it to officials.

NIJ is a research branch of the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice. “The success of school-level interventions is particularly important because they can be implemented with very few extra costs to schools. The scientific methods in this study were rigorous,” said NIJ Director John H. Laub, Ph.D. Read the full report

(Editor’s Note: Check out Dibble’s poster sets that encourage healthy relationships and discourage unhealthy behaviors.)

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Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Teen Birth Rates Fall to Record Lows The birth rate for teenagers fell 9% to 34.3 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 in 2010, the lowest level ever reported for the United States according to Births: Preliminary Data for 2010, released yesterday by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).This 9% decrease from 2009 is the largest single year decrease since 1946-47. The rate has fallen 44% from 1991 (61.8) when U.S. teen birth rates began a long-term decline.

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Mighty Fine FaceBook Offer

FaceBook fans of The Dibble Institute will receive 10% off orders of $100 or more between now and December 31! Click here to join us on FaceBook and get your special Holiday offer!

Like us on Facebook

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Funding Streams for Relationship Education

Safe Schools Healthy Students Safe Schools Healthy Students

The Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) initiative encourages schools and communities to work in partnership to create safe and healthy school environments in which youth can learn and develop. School districts partner with law enforcement officials, local mental health authorities, and juvenile justice officials to provide students, schools, and communities the benefit of enhanced, comprehensive services that can promote healthy childhood development and prevent violence and alcohol and other drug use. SS/HS grantees are funded through a federal partnership among the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services. For a complete list of the 100 districts, to see how you could help.

Safe and Supportive Schools

Safe and Supportive Schools

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $38.8 million in Safe and Supportive School (SSS) grants to 11 states (Arizona, California, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) to measure school safety at the building level and to provide federal funds for interventions in those schools with the greatest needs. The ultimate goal of the grants is to create and support safe and drug-free learning environments, and increase academic success for students in these high-risk schools.

To address factors that impact conditions for learning – bullying, harassment, violence, and substance abuse – grantees are in the process of implementing programs and/or developing initiatives to collect and use data to make changes to improve student outcomes. If you are in one of the 11 states, click here for your state contact. Call and see how you can be of assistance!

Find your own donor!

Donors Choose, an online charity, connects donors to classrooms in need. They are inviting “front-line educators” in public schools to identify the needs of the students they serve. Front-line educators are teachers, librarians, guidance counselors, and school nurses who work full time and deal directly with students. If you are a front-line educator, you can submit the project you would like funded on their website and have donors from around the country help your classroom out. Great resource!

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Save the date –

The Dibble Institute Calendar

January 31 – February 1, 2012

YouthBuild USA 2012 National Directors Conference

Arlington, VA

Exhibitors: Irene Varley & Janet Pozmantier

February 13-15, 2012

Educating for Careers

Sacramento, CA

Workshop: Relationship Education: The Missing Link

Presenter: Kay Reed

February 20-24, 2012Annual National Fatherhood and Families ConferenceLos Angeles, CA


Thursday, Feb. 23 – Reach Teens, Teach Teens – Kay ReedFriday, Feb. 24 – Healthy Teen Relationships: Forming Healthy Connections Today and Into Tomorrow – Char Kamper

March 29-31, 2012

National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence

San Francisco, CA

Presenter and Exhibitor: Kay Reed

Please let us know if you are having an open to the public event featuring Dibble curricula. We would be happy to help you publicize it.

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Tour the Dibble Website!

Dibble Heart

Welcome to the many new educators, Extension agents, and clinicians who have recently joined our Dibble community!

Please take a quick tour of our new website. You’ll find:

  • FREE sample lessons and movie guides to help young people get smart about their love lives.
  • Evaluations that show how youth relationship education programs effectively address some of the most pressing social problems we face.
  • Links that we at The Dibble Institute think are good resources for teens, parents, and instructors.


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